the house-shaped lovechild of your SERENITY NOW and LIFE’S A BEACH office mugs.

for all the atiya-style jibber jabber on city life, a room like this makes my steely resolve crack to pieces.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

the ocean breeze tickles your eyelashes while you lie around playing candy crush saga.  #nobigdeal

i don’t know who you are, kelly behun, but i will find the construction drawings of your hamptons home and tape them to my husband’s face.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

note the staircase such as one might find in the greek isles or whilst ascending to God.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

much like in ferngully, a dozen earthy textures coexist within a balanced ecosystem.  a woodland gnome might pop out from behind the white marble island and hop onto a handstool at any moment. #nbd

each space grabs you by your lapels and screams “i am perfect” into your mouth.  calmingly.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

i have spent long moments staring at the photos of the house, and i am inspired every time to think “ah, crap.  i should’ve married mark zuckerberg while i had the chance.”

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

like mountains ringing the aspen home, natural features takes this spectacular house into the realms of therapeutic fantasy  (…followed by greedy madness.)

time to stop looking at it before i’m driven to facebook message zuckerberg.

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arrested degeneres

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

been snuggling with the netflix app for days.  (at my couch.  not the pergola.)

for every frame that made it to the gallery wall this week, i rewarded myself with a hit of arrested development.

my place

ok two hits.

portia de rossi, maybe bluth, mother of maeby, gay woman playing straight wife to gay man, awe-inducing comedian of jealousy-inducing haircut and dubious nose job… what was i saying?

she lives on a phat horse ranch with spouse ellen.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

the leather.  the RUG.

pause for a moment; note the rich caramel body and curvy weathered arms of the chairs.  that faded green antique rug adds a diffusion of color and pattern, just slips itself into a critical role in the composition without announcement.  how can i be falling so hard for a piece that missed my notice entirely at first viewing?

consider that the last bit of decor tchotch to seduce me was a vase that looks more striking than it would feel if someone were to smash you over the head with it.

abigail turin / architectural digest / april 2013

ellen.  i thought i couldn’t like you any more than i already do.

de rossi and degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

ellen did all the decor for eight buildings on the property.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

the wood.  the ART.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

a horse lives in that one.  a HORSE.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

didn’t believe me, did you?  her name is maeby.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

i want to moonwalk to work in my shiny converse sneakers.

anyone else have trouble recognizing portia this week?  a blonde with long wiglike hair does not lindsay bluth make.

still, we’ll give her credit for falling in love with a bona fide design geek.

roast your armchair with a hershey bar and graham crackers

oddly, words did the heavy lifting this month in elle decor.  

“i don’t like a lot of curves — all that modern furniture that looks like a collection of marshmallows.”

DAMN.  gauntlet slap.  who wants to play?

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013

that marshmallow couch is all like, bitch let’s take this outside.

i’m with the couch.

anti-marshmallow supremacist john saladino doesn’t mince words when prosthelytizing:

“so much decorating today is in-your-face — the wow factor.  i like holding back.  i’m more interested in what you leave out than put in.”

a little pretentious for my taste.

i read magazines in rounds, the first round without actually reading any text in order to gauge my unbiased emotional response to design.  timothy haynes and anthony roberts had me awe-gasping straight into a choking hazard.

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013

magnifique.

saladino’s work?  barely caused the needle to twitch on my speedometer.

john saladino / elle decor / june 2013

john saladino / elle decor / june 2013

he has a subtlety obsession tipping into fetish, methinks.

on my second pass through his feature in the magazine, i stifled a yawn and took a close read of his clear descriptive vision.

“they’re metamorphic colors that change according to the time if day–gray to celadon, beige to taupe. they’re always implicit, never explicit.”

unlike his monologues.

john saladino / elle decor / june 2013

“i never do anything obvious.”

except talk, apparently.

subtlety belongs behind the professional photographer on the side of the room where you throw all the old newspapers and toy monkeys to get them out of the way of your photoshoot.

while paging through his rooms, i had flashbacks to architectural digest’s february issue celebrating blandness.

terry hunziker / architectural digest / feb 2013

good enough for a layman’s home and wholly inadequate for a glossy interiors spread.

magazine features should cause a cardiac jolt.

kelly wearstler / lonny magazine / june 2013

eyes bugging at the weirdness?

apparently, marshmallow furniture gets the hollywood regency tycoon kelly wearstler seal of approval.  i’m already buzzing with a dozen ways to fit that funk into my lookbook.  (note the checkerboard coffee table.)

(s’more checkerboard.)

kelly wearstler / lonny magazine / june 2013

(take my love with a grain of salt.  by now, i’d applaud a checkerboard-painted landmine.)

as mad men starts a slow jog to the finish line and the great gatsby gains momentum in its pole dance, we’re seeing a natural pivot away from the mid-century modern cupcake shop and towards art deco froyo.

i’m game for a new shock wave of inspiration as long as “beige to taupe” is never quoted again.

decor that may cause you to choke on your grape

first, swallow your grape.

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013

Magnifique.

from coffee to cocktails (your home, not your outfit)

so the other day i was bumming around my living room in the 2 pm glare, eyeballing how the walls might look in ultra pure white.  quick mental math!  can i paint everything and replace all my furniture for $50?

don’t judge me.  i made syed promise not to judge me before telling him that i wanted to paint our living room white.  he paused for a second, then took on his fiercest “stop being an unreasonable female” face…  the one he’s aimed at me ohh maybe twice since we met in 2004.

ok.  simmering down.

i named my blog after a paint color, for chrissake.  why would i want to deface a cocoon so carefully tuned to comfort us after work?  am i a tween on an abc afterschool special or some shit?  i define cool, not the guy in tats passing me a cigarette.

still, i’m curious why dim, moody, soothing spaces have fallen out of popular favor lately.

dark walls do sneak into magazines despite the ongoing white room orgy in interiors photography.  why the general shortage?  because they obviously don’t photograph with the ba-BAM of their counterparts.

abigail turin / architectural digest / april 2013

it’s like biting into a watermelon with your whole face.

…not something i’d do in a blizzard.  i wonder what this crisp white space looks like at night.  do light fixtures give the walls a dingy, yellowish bleh?  hmm.

conventional wisdom and the limitations of camera technology play to the strengths of white.  interiors photography must occur in maximum daylight.  don’t even consider the alternative, just deal.  this law might as well be etched on a tablet delivered by moses.  thou shalt and whatnot.

this room is already stunning in daylight:

jenna lyons / domino best rooms / spring 2012

by night, it will stop traffic.  spectacular light fixture + extensive architectural detailing = boom.

i start with the exception.  you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

it is left to us to apply our brain’s instagram (brainstagram?) nighttime filter to these spaces that photograph just a tad awkwardly in the daylight.  observe:

casper vissers / elle decor / jan 2013

not blown away by the daytime shot?  fast-forward to night:  white high contrast furniture to define the space.  dark walls receding to visual infinity.  blazing fire.  voluptuous chandelier.  win win win.

(note the checkerboard table.)

try another one:

fisher weisman / architectural digest / april 2013

your retinas are stimulated but not totally pleased with what they’re seeing, amiright?  the daylight against all these textural dark surfaces reads harsh.  i want to desert the house for the sunlit yard beckoning through those patio doors.  this room was born for the night.

strange to say that about a home office, but here we go:

brandi and mikkelsen / lonny magazine / dec 2012

call this a contemporary take on a gentleman cave, good for mallard displaying and pipe puffing.

ok let’s be honest – this room is preposterous in 2013.  it’s too dark for a productive workday and too technologically backwards for evening.  not sure why it exists.  add a chaise lounger and a couple floor lamps, and i might buy the story.

this room is so similar to mine, my subconscious has already moved in:

matthew patrick smyth / elle decor / dec 2012

a low rectangular lamp, a few flickering candles on the tray, a distant light reflecting in the mirror… yeah pretty sure if i wiggle my toes, you’ll see me sitting there just off to the right.

this bedroom is a no-brainer:

tamzin greenhill / elle decor / march 2013

perfection.  next.

more daytime harshness with the promise of a gorgeous night:

domino small spaces / spring 2013

jankety.  but in dim light under a lit blue star, the muted versions of all those colors will pool together cohesively.

and now back to where we started.

my place

subtract the sun.  mute the colors.  add flickering bursts of candle light, sparkle, and reflection.  don’t see it?  stop by some night for a cup of chai.

until cameras learn to capture what the human eye already knows, we’ve got to read between the lines in pretty pictures.  look past the magazine editors.  turn down the cigarette.  aren’t you, like, twenty-eight or something?

checkerboard vindication

this page out of the may 2013 elle decor gave me a chuckle:

remember my rant about the new chevron?

mark jacobs must be snorting fairy dust.  everyone with pupils and a soul wants a piece of this guy.

all these months later, i’m still not satisfied with the availability of mod checkerboard in interiors.  elle decor scraped the barrel and came up with… a shot glass.

step it up, designers.  we need you.

how to train your home to give bear hugs

a battle has long brewed between two epic design powers.

sorry; i’m excited for game of thrones season three.

it’s been bothering me that interior decor polarizes to two extremes, the first of which i like to call

1.  twenty-first century grandma

colors, patterns, textures, finishes are coordinated just so.  there’s a single metal.  matching woods.  steamed silk drapes and fluffed pillow cushions.  your eyes may be pleased, but your lungs burn a little from the decorator stench.

see:  william sofield, jamie drake, sarah richardson

ws

william sofield

jamie drake

sarah richardson

such images come to mind for most americans when they think of home decor, plus a few predictable thoughts:  seems like a lot of effort.  also looks too expensive.  probably takes forever… meh, i have no idea how to make my house look like that.  can you stop asking me all these questions?  the bachelor finale is about to start.

three hours later, the bachelor is over and now you’re genuinely interested in putting some effort into your home decor.  do you actually want your house to look like a designer’s portfolio?  chew on that for a second.

the other design extreme is

2.  minimalism, or Whatever Happens When HAL 9000 Decorates.

bare.  muted.  slippery.  makes you feel small.  gives you the urge to reach for a blanket.  what’s that you say?  evil supercomputers don’t own blankets?

image_1

alix and bruno verney / elle decor / april 2013

alix and bruno verney / elle decor / april 2013

this is what artsy fartsy looks like in the interiors world.  don’t stare at it too long or you might catch a depression.

image

alix and bruno verney / elle decor / april 2013

i understand the aethetic value here, but its inaccessibility is a dealbreaker.  if the only way i can picture myself in your room is perched on the edge of your barcelona chair, weeping into my own hands, you lose.

grandma and robot.  one fussy, the other soulless.  both design extremes have a gaping hole where personality belongs.

for all they offer as a designer’s playground, rooms are homes for people.  people are flesh and blood hominids with achy backs, seasonal affective disorder, and clutter.  people need their rooms to love them like family.

enter emily, our white knight.

emily henderson / LA times / 16 march 2013

emily henderson / LA times / 16 march 2013

emily henderson / LA times / 16 march 2013

emily henderson / theeverygirl.com / 10 jan 2013

emily henderson / stylebyemilyhenderson.com / 19 march 2013

emily henderson / stylebyemilyhenderson.com / 31 jan 2013

this girl is on fire.

how?

by emphasizing proportion and shape over color coordination.  by rejecting trends for a mixed salad of periods and styles.

by embracing the unique, the eye-catching, and the human.

emily is a visionary.  follow.  (i certainly do.)

fish and sofabeds stink in three days

my den is a rubik’s cube.

my sofabed is that last stupid yellow square that you just can’t figure out how to get to the other eight yellow squares on the far side of the cube.

i used to think that sofabeds were brilliant.  i was wrong.  sofabeds are absurd.

take the heaviest, most expensive piece of furniture you will ever own.  add to it a heavy, expensive mechanism and crappy mattress to make it even heavier and more expensive with marginal added functionality.  take a survey of your limping overnight guests, the four burly male friends who keep helping you move, and your spouse.  then weep in shame.

so.  i need to replace our sofabed.  the mattress is comically uncomfortable, the seat cushions sag into the the folded mattress, and the whole assembly is upholstered in beige microfiber such as you might find in a model home.  in 2003.  in iowa.

was i totally baked when purchasing this thing?  i am baffled.

anyhoo; while the sofabed runs the craigslist hamster wheel, i have five goals to meet in my search for a replacement:

1.  provide comfortable lounge seating.

2.  provide comfortable accommodations to overnight guests.

3.  move easily.

4.  cost <$500.

5.  fit the den’s bright, colorful, modern, casual aesthetic.

in my budgetless fantasy, the lounge seating in this room would be upholstered in warm congac leather – perhaps from restoration hardware.

restoration hardware / $2000

my fantasy fails 2) 3) and 4).  (as do all new sofas.)

sleeper?

west elm / $1300

fails 1) 3) and 4).  probably fails 2) because the sleeper mattress union has negotiated an anti-human vertebrae policy.

can’t even meet 4) with ikea’s version.

ikea / $800

maybe something pre-owned will help me meet the price point.

craigslist detroit / $400ish

price point, yes.  eyeball test, no.  in detroit, craigslist sofas fail 2) 3) and 5).  blame the shortage of transient young professionals with good taste.

not optimistic about craigslist sleeper sofas, either…

craigslist / $300

fails 1) 2) 3) and 5).  if that lumpy thing is worth $300, i will eat my hat.

time to consider other types of furniture.

ikea / $300

futons fail 5).  maybe 1) and 2).  i should probably at this point create a sixth goal:

1.  provide comfortable lounge seating.

2.  provide comfortable accommodations to overnight guests.

3.  move easily.

4.  cost <$500.

5.  fit the den’s bright, colorful, modern, casual aesthetic.

6.  belong in the home of a grownass person rather than a frat house.

chaise loungers fail 2) and 4), but feast your eyes on this:

overstock.com / $750

damned if i wasn’t seriously tempted at this moment by a vision of mottled cowhide against my ocean-deep bluegreen persian rug.

i’m not getting anywhere.

how about a daybed?

daybed1

overstock.com / $380

not that kind.  hear me out.

a mattress = comfortable sleeping.

a mattress + cushions = comfortable sitting.

a frame + a mattress + cushions = painless moving.

obviously a daybed will meet my first three goals.  but can it fit in my office aesthetic, and can i get it for cheap?

first, elle decor to massage the vision:

sig bergamin / elle decor / april 2011

claiborne swanson frank / elle decor / nov 2011

bright.  colorful.  fresh.  eclectic.  relaxing.  the image is crystalizing for me quickly.

what’s on the market?  west elm has a contemporary interpretation.

daybed2

west elm / $450

lukewarm.  the last thing i need is another overpriced pile of woodmash made in china.

as i foraged for daybeds through the internet, this copper number kept tugging at my gaze.

wayfair / $330

the silhouette is garbage, but copper!  COPPER!  copper.  i swoon.  copper needs to happen in my home office.

i want a metal frame in straight lines – none of that curly traditional shiz – with a throwback reference to vintage wrought iron detailing for flavor.  then i’ll spray it shiny copper and the universe will rejoice.

pottery barn feels me.

pottery barn / $700

pottery barn / $700

but this thing has to be cheap to leave room in the budget for spraying, mattress, cushions, and linens.  low cost imported knockoffs…?  bueller…?  bueller…?

amazon.com / $130

this is how we do it.

it’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange

this art is creepy, right?

image_1

francesca connolly / elle decor / march 2013

the room is calm and comfortable.  i wouldn’t know, though.  i’m busy peering into the ratty living room above the sofa and wondering if i’m gonna catch a zombie strolling by.

i’ve seen this inception-for-interiors concept now twice in a week, the second time in will ferrell’s midcentury funk loft.

image

shawn henderson / architectural digest / march 2013

the pop art angle makes it less bonkers here… only slightly, though.  zombie marge simpson?

odd to me that a person would use the image of a room as wall art in a room.  the room IS the art, where principles of aesthetic, balance, proportion, color, contrast are wielded as carefully as a designer might in clothing or sculpture or internet meme.  i think that a picture of a room inside the room mucks up the room.

i mean, does a photograph of a belle epoque parlor confuse your modernist living room?  does an image of a chesterfield couch belong over a real chesterfield couch or a futon?  do overlapping styles complement each other or compete/distract?  what are the guidelines for rooms-within-rooms??

…challenge accepted.  (i am clutching my blanket in fear.)

leave the white to the coconuts

white walls are trending.

image_5

brandi and mikkelsen / lonny magazine / dec 2012

white

gert wingardh / elle decor / jan-feb 2013

image_6

emily henderson / stylebyemilyhenderson.com / jan 2013

yeah i get it.  there’s an easy freshness in these spaces that is painfully lacking on mmmmm say an episode of colorsplash.

image

david bromstad

…terrifyingly lacking.

image_1

david bromstad

(dear god, mine eyes ! ! !)

yeah i get it but i hate it.   the underlying injustice of this trend is that white walls only work in spaces with beautiful floors.  so hey there, people with beautiful floors.  stop waving your beautiful floors around in my face.  it’s rude.

and despite the visual eyescraping you just suffered at the hands of david bromstad, credit where credit is due for his fearlessness.  no mountain is worth conquering if you piggyback to the top on a sherpa dragging your oxygen tank.  i think that the greatest design heights – the kind with a gravitational draw on your deepest core emotions – are achieved only with great risk.  color expresses a joie de vivre that white is incompetent to produce.

ipso facto, i could give a shit whether or not white walls are trending.  there are other ways to freshen up a space without throwing in the towel on your design ballsiness.

for example:

1)  using cottons and linens in light neutrals.  i have two white denim slipcovered couches, so… check.

2)  using natural and distressed wood.  i have… none of the above.  years ago i loaded up on ikea brown-black and now find myself turning to unfinished light tone woods for that injection of freshness. usually, though, these wood finishes live in a stark white aesthetic.

Picture 86

herman miller

i’ve been puzzling for weeks on how to fit these lighter woods into a space embracing color.

enter austrian ski lodge, stage left.

image

hutter bonan / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

image_1

hutter bonan / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

image_2

hutter bonan / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

savor the play of those wood tones against navy, red, gray, and green.  note the hat trick of warmth PLUS lightness PLUS contrast.   just lovely.

you better believe that i have a queue of shiny furniture ready to be stripped to the bone this week.